Lights Out – My Story

It’s retrospective week here on, and with set 2 coming out soon it’s a good time to look back on set 1. The rest of the crew has the important things covered, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell a more personal tale about my experiences with Eternal so far, and hopefully dispense some interesting strategy and entertainment along the way. This is my story.

Pensive Sam.jpg

I first came across Eternal between rounds of a Magic tournament at my local game store. A friend of mine was playing on his laptop and I popped over to watch. He was playing Haunting Scream, which I believe is one of the best examples to introduce a Magic player to some of the cool things Eternal’s digital medium enables, like units keeping skill and stat changes between zones (you can Dark Return something you Haunting Scream-ed and it keeps Flying and Charge?!). Fortunately for me, he had an extra beta key, and I hopped right in to see what else this wonderful game had to offer.

After going through all of my initial gold on drafting, it was time to decide what deck to build for ranked. The game was under a non-disclosure agreement with the beta players at the time, so the only way to talk about it was the official forums on, which I scoured for decklists and strategy articles to figure out what I should spend all of my hard-earned shiftstone on (although it was much easier to acquire then, as packs contained 200 shiftstone instead of the 100 they give now). After listening to Neon’s podcast and reading aReNGee’s masterlist articles, I decided on Armory, as it was the deck that best used Eternal’s unique mechanics (I was obviously still a fresh new player and hadn’t yet discovered the joy of Clockroaches).

After playing Armory for a bit, I built the glorious durdle machine that was Camel-less control, a unit-less TJP control deck that revolved around 4-cost Stronghold’s Visage and Excavate that COULD leave the void (which allowed you to give it Echo with Elysian Trailblazer and then play every card in your deck infinite times, eventually leading to a victory with Sword of the Sky King or Channel the Tempest). I’ve always been a control player, and a deck like that fit me perfectly. This was a time of innocence on the ladder, as decks like Rakano and Queen Jito hadn’t yet been refined to their most brutal incarnations and cards like Rain of Frogs were playable. I guess the fact that Party Hour existed didn’t hurt, as Camel-less was a decent deck to counter it since it could heal out of range of the 30 damage OTK and disrupt it with Rain of Frogs and Backlash.

August was the month where I really found my groove in Eternal.

8-2016 rank 1 draft.PNGDraft leaderboards, August 9

Around this time I also wrote my first Eternal article, a piece on the official forums about general draft strategy and cards that were important for each faction paring (this article is very outdated now with so many cards changed or removed since closed beta, but I linked it for completeness). I drafted a lot while I was still building up my collection and did fairly well at it, but constructed is my favorite way to play (I haven’t drafted enough to reach master since December).

9-2016 rank 5 master.PNGConstructed leaderboards, September 31

The ladder was overrun with Rakano Warcry (featuring Sparring Partner and Gilded Glaive) and Queen Jito in August, so I built an anti-aggro TJP control deck and played it to the upper echelons of ladder. This was the subject of the first constructed article I wrote, and also where I fell in love with BAE #1, Knight-Chancellor Siraf. There’s just something reassuring about having a good early blocker that can dominate the late game in your deck.

As the Fall rolled into September, the meta became slower, with lots of Stonescar midrange and Combrei around. Slow midrange decks are the perfect prey for Eye of Winter, and I played the Eye of Winter + Harsh Rule synergy in Icaria Blue to another high ladder finish. Eye of Winter was insane back then because Flame Blast and Obliterate didn’t see widespread play yet, so the ability to stun every turn gave you inevitability. On today’s ladder, Icaria Blue no longer has inevitability since Stonescar can burn you for 25, Rakano can eventually find a Plate, and control decks can win despite being 2-for-1ed by every Harsh Rule. As such, I don’t think Eye of Winter is particularly playable anymore. You need to actually finish people off.

Right after the September season ended, rngeternal had an article submission contest to find more writers, and my Icaria Blue article landed me one of the slots (along with LocoPojo), which is why you’re reading this article right now. I think that went well for everyone. 🙂 

In all seriousness, writing articles is something I really enjoy. It encourages me to play lots of different decks so that I have something to write about each week, gives me a platform to discuss what I like and dislike, and lets me help people build better decks and play better by sharing my ideas, answering questions, and fostering discussion where everyone can learn. Even if it’s just for Reddit, I encourage everyone to put their ideas onto paper (err…keyboard) and post them so others can see, discuss, and learn. Continuous improvement is always the goal!Clockroach

As closed beta wound to a close, I played mostly Icaria Blue, Clockroaches, and 4 faction Control, where I learned how to play Big Combrei mirrors (a skill I hope is more important in the future – I love long, grindy games) and how ridiculous Azindel’s Gift is. At least it makes The Last Word better since your opponent can’t answer it with fast spells or ambush units. The Last Word is sweet. This is also when Clockroaches was at its peak (Crown of Possibilities used to give TWO skills to the Echo copy of a unit), and I remember playing it from rank 30 to rank 10 one night. Good times.

Open beta brought a legion of changes, and also a collection wipe. I had to buy a box and draft like mad to put together a Feln control deck for my article that week, and it had a big influence on the ETS season 1 Invitational that weekend. Several players, including our own rekenner, managed to scrub out with it. I liked him immediately when he quoted my “I play to draw cards” line from my first article introduction in his player profile, and I like to think that I was a little responsible for him retiring from tournament play to be rngeternal’s tournament organizer. One simply cannot get pummeled that hard in a big tournament and retain their motivation to keep competing.

Around this time I also wrote about Combrei Aggro, which I think is actually in a good spot right now. Copperhall Elite + weapons is really hard for Stonescar to beat, the units are beefy enough to survive against Armory and rumble against Rakano, and Big Combrei doesn’t see much play (then because very few people had full enough collections and now because everyone is still scared of Chalice control). With Set 2, 3-faction aggressive Combrei like Combrei Plate could be a real contender with another set of multi-faction cards.

In February, RNG Eternal began our streaming network, and I’m so glad I joined. Streaming is the most fun I’ve had playing a game online, and I love talking with viewers, giving advice on and playing their decks, and ranting about whatever is topical at the time. Streaming also means that many of my favorite moments were recorded to go down in history:

Icaria off Siraf to break an Azindel’s Gift-Last Word lock:

The 20xx Eternal meta:

Eilyn Combo:

Life goals:

Set 2 spoilers:

Bairdrus had to end his regularly scheduled streaming eventually, and I stepped up by adding Fridays to my regular Wednesday and Sunday streams. On Fridays, my wife (WifeOutAce) is home for the stream, which means I got her into the game, too. We have a lot of fun drafting together, and she loves her Clockroach deck, and even crafted Crown of Possibilities as her first playset of legendaries.

Streaming also encourages me to play more off-the-wall decks to entertain the viewers instead of sticking to proven high-tier strategies, which broadens my knowledge of the game (and is a lot more fun). I’ve done decently well while playing a lot of meme decks, making DWD’s top 100 list for May playing mostly Feln Control and my trusty Clockroaches. I haven’t made many forrays into the tournament scene since I’m usually busy on Saturdays, but I’ve done decently well in the few Sunday tournaments that have been held so far, making top 8 in the ETS season 3 LCQ and the Bring the Bling no-commons-allowed tournament.

I’m very happy with Eternal and grateful for my place in the community. To all of the fans of my articles and videos and streams: thank you. To all of the haters and the ambivalent: I hope I can change your mind someday, and thanks for not being too negative in the meantime. I love this community and have enjoyed the vast majority of my interactions with the players. With Set 2 on the horizon, I believe Eternal has a long, bright future ahead of it, and I’m glad I can be a part of it.

Stay awesome, everyone.


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